Nuclear Power could be in Florida's Future

06/08/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Officials with a group responsible for looking at Florida’s energy needs say the state is looking at massive challenges in the future, due to increased population growth and average electricity use increasing.

And among the sources that some say may try to meet those needs is Nuclear Power.

Earlier this week, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said his agency is preparing for a surge of license applications for nuclear plants in the next year, with Florida leading those efforts.

Scott Burnell is the public affairs officer with the NRC based in Washington. He said that the passage of the Energy Policy Act passed in Congress 2 years has led to a groundswell of 18 different applications for Nuclear plants nationwide (roll tape#1 o.q. “ applicants control “)

Susan Glickman is a consultant to the Natural Resources Defense Council and the
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. She said similar financial breaks have been made to create incentives for nuclear power companies (roll tape#2 o.q. “ here in Florida”)

Progress Energy has proposed to build 2 reactors in Levy County. And Florida Power & Light has expressed interest in building a new plant in South Florida in 2009.

Currently, the state gets 14 percent of its electricity from 5 nuclear reactors in the state.

In the future, officials say that Florida will need a lot more power, from a variety of sources, which could include Nuclear.

Tommy Borroughs is the Chairman of the Florida Energy Commission. He says that his agency, created last year by the state legislature and mandated to presenting recommendations for power choices by the end of this year, is looking at ALL forms of energy, including renewable options.

But he says that even if the state were to begin using such renewables, there is still a need for other sources in the interim (roll tape#3 o.q.”become more dominant”)

And Borroughs says that means Nuclear Power (roll tape#4 o.q.”or thereabouts”)

There have been no nuclear power plants to come online in the U.S. for a couple of decades. The meltdowns at 3 Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986 played a large part in that. As well as the fact that they’re extremely expensive to build.

But that was before the problems of emitting greenhouse gases become a priority. Nuclear power discharges virtually no carbon dioxide , compared with plants that burn oil, natural gas and coal. Again, Susan Glickman from the NRDC (roll tape#5 o.q. Nuclear power plants”)

When talking about Nuclear Power, one has to talk about the fact that there is not a facility to handle the long term waste produced from those plants.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission insists that there are safe area to deal with the waste currently though, at least on a short term basis. Spokesman Scott Burnell (roll tape#6 o.q.” in this country”)

Burnell said that for the long term, the country is expected to have a national repository to dispose such wastes by the year by the year 2025. That is expected to be in Yucca Mountain, in Nevada. But after last year’s Congressional elections won by Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said “Yucca Mountain is dead. It’ll never happen.”

Susan Glickman from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy says there are a lot other reasons NOT to rush to nuclear to ease Florida’s energy woes (roll tape# 7 o.q.”rush to nuclear “)

Currently, there are 440 nuclear power plants around the world – they provide 1/6th of the world’s electricity.

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